For expecting parents, formula is one of the biggest costs that can put a dent in your pocket during the first year.
The price of formula can range anywhere between $20 to $40 a container, which may only last for a week (or two, if you’re stretching it). Now if you’re with a newborn, one week or less would be the realistic mark.
Not to mention, your baby will also go through growth spurts, meaning that he or she will likely feed with an increased appetite.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants can have a growth spurt at the beginning of week two, and again at weeks three and six.
When my daughter was three weeks old, she went through a growth spurt where she fed every hour or two, keeping me up late throughout the night. Due to other reasons, I was mainly formula feeding at this time so I noticed how quick our formula went out. A few weeks after, we experienced another growth spurt with intense feeding every other hour.
Although this time period did not last as long as I anticipated, it was one of the most memorable period because I distinctly remember the exhaustion and perseverance that came along with it.
However, formula doesn’t have to be such an intimidating expense as most parents put it because there are other ways that can reduce the cost. Today, I’ll be sharing with you eight ways you can do so.
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1. Sign up for coupons and samples
The #1 most easiest thing you can do right now is to sign up for coupons and samples.
Coupons and samples are great ways to help you save money on formula. If you sign up with formula companies such as Enfamil and Similac, you’ll receive coupons in the mail as well as formula samples.
When I signed up with Enfamil for my daughter a few years ago (she is 3 years-old today), I received a box of goodies including two different types of formula, formula mix, bottle nipples, and coupons.
As for Similac, I received two sample containers of formula, coupons, and a feeding and nutrition booklet.
Even after I had my daughter, I continued to receive coupons in the mail from both formula companies, which was really helpful when it came to feeding expenses.
2. Earn Cashback
You can also earn cashback on purchases made on formula using cashback programs such as Rakuten and Ibotta.
Rakuten offers cashback on select stores for any purchase you make online or in-store. The cashback percentage varies on a daily basis and they sometimes run specials or promotions with cashback as high as 30%.
For example, if you were buying formula at Walgreens and Rakuten was running a 5% cashback on purchases, you can earn 5% cashback with your purchase of formula.
You can use Rakuten by downloading the Rakuten app on your mobile device or installing the Google Chrome plugin on your web browser.
If you don’t have an account, you can create one for free here.
Ibotta is another cashback program and website where you can earn cashback on eligible purchases.
With this program, there are two main ways you can earn cashback:
- Online – You open up the app, shop straight from the app, and earn cashback based on the percentage available (For example, 5% cashback for Amazon)
- In-store – Save eligible offers and then redeem for cashback or you can grab a gift card and earn cashback OR even link your store loyalty cards and earn cashback
With various opportunities available, you can easily cut some costs on baby formula. Although the cashback amounts are not always high, each dollar can make a difference when you’re on a budget.
Make sure you check out my other article for additional ways you can save money.
3. Ask your baby’s pediatrician
One thing I learned in the first year with my daughter is that the pediatrician’s office can provide formula samples at your baby’s routine doctor appointments.
What happens is that formula reps would leave formula samples at doctor offices in hope for parents to try their products. As a result, some offices will have formula samples available for parents who are supplementing or formula feeding.
Keep in mind that not all doctor offices will have samples available but hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
4. Enroll with a federal or state program
In the United States, eligible individuals may enroll with a federal or state program to provide assistance for infant food and nutrition.
This means that if you meet the requirements for the program, the government will give you formula assistance, as well as other nutritional needs.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
One of the most well-known programs in the United States is called the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
It is a federal grant program available in 50 States, 34 Indian Tribal Organizations, American Samoa, District of Columbia, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
The target group for this program is for low-income women and children under 5 years of age who are at nutritional risk. If eligible, you can receive infant formula, infant cereal, baby foods, fruits, vegetables, cheese, yogurt, etc…
In addition, you can receive health screens, nutrition and breastfeeding counseling, and immunization screening and referrals.
To learn more about the program, make sure you read this WIC fact sheet for details, or if you want to find out whether you are eligible, click here.
5. Use Your HSA/FSA
The Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) are two tax-advantaged accounts you can use towards infant formula, with exceptions applied.
Typically, baby formula is not an eligible expense for an HSA or FSA but if your baby requires a certain type of formula to treat a condition, then your baby’s pediatrician can provide a Letter of Medical Necessity for the formula.
An HSA/FSA helps in that you can save money on taxes and will actually use money from your gross income rather than your net income for medical needs. You will contribute pre-tax dollars from your paycheck to an account designated for medical supplies and services.
6. Shop with Store Sales and Deals
Another way you can save is to shop along with store sales and deals.
Target is great at doing this when it comes to baby essentials and infant formula. Sometimes, you will see Target run gift card promotions on infant formula and it opens a savings opportunity for you to stock up.
For example, if Target runs a $15 gift card promotion when you spend over $100 worth of baby essentials (including infant formula), then you can apply the $15 gift towards your next purchase. In addition, if you hold a Target RedCard, you save an additional 5% off your purchase.
If you don’t have a RedCard, you can sign up for one here. It is free to have and all you need to do is link your bank account to your RedCard account to enjoy the perks.
Walgreens is also another place you can save on infant formula. Although they don’t directly run sales on infant formula, you can take advantage of your myWalgreens account.
With myWalgreens, you can earn rewards and redeem cash towards your purchases. For example, if you make two separate purchases that are each over $10, you can earn $5 cash and then apply it towards your next purchase.
Additional perks from myWalgreens include:
- Exclusive sale prices on products
- Earn 1% Walgreens cash rewards storewide or 5% on Walgreens branded products
- Stay informed with real-time environmental and health forecasts
- Pick up essentials in as little as 30 minutes at the drive-thru, curbside, or in store
To create your free account, you can start here.
Similar to Walgreens, CVS has its own rewards program where you can take advantage of its store sales and deals.
ExtraCare is a free membership program where you will gain access to coupons and exclusive savings. You can clip coupons to your account and add CVS-exclusive savings and discounts to your purchases.
If CVS runs a sale on infant formula and you have an additional CVS discount of $10 off a $30 purchase, you are saving money from both the sale and discount.
7. Use Generic Brands
Another way to save money on baby formula is to use generic brands.
Most often, parents believe generic brands are of lesser quality as they are less expensive than brand-name formulas but both brands actually contain the same required nutrients set by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
According to the FDA, they do not approve infant formula before it is marketed but all formulas must meet federal nutrient requirements located in section 21 CFR 107.100 before it is sold. The nutrients must have at least more than the minimum levels specified without exceeding the maximum level indicated. If the formulas do not meet these requirements before it is marketed, the formula is considered adulterated and the FDA may take compliance action.
I have personally used Similac’s Pro-Advanced infant formula with my daughter but changed it to Parent’s Choice Advantage formula after six months of birth. The change in formula did not affect my child’s health and my cost expense for infant formula decreased.
However, keep in mind that this may not be the same case for every child because each child’s digestive system differs. Please consult with your child’s health care provider before changing formulas.
The most natural and easiest way you can save money on baby formula is to breastfeed. By breastfeeding your baby, you don’t have to worry about the cost of formula and you can rest assured that you baby is receiving all the nutrients available.
However, breastfeeding doesn’t mean that there are no costs at all. You have to consider the costs of breastfeeding accessories such as breast pumps, storage bags, a nursing pillow, tops, nursing pads, as well as lactation services. In addition, you will have to consider the indirect cost of time invested in maintaining your milk supply, breastfeeding your baby, and ensuring your baby latches properly.
Additional costs for services may be included but these are generally optional.
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